Archive for December, 2018

The Sauce Boss review….December 30, 2018….

BILL WHARTON

THE SAUCE BOSS

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BLIND BOY WILLY (BOOK)

BLIND BOY WILLY (CD)

BDO-10 CD

BLIND BOY WILLY–I WILL PLAY FOR GUMBO–LONELY GIRL–LITTLE DRIVER–DOCK OF THE BAY–WHAT SHE GONNA DO–PLEASURES OF THE DEEP

One of the absolute best packages we received this holiday season came from Bill Wharton.  Yep–the ol’ Sauce Boss himself sent us a copy of his latest CD and book combo.  The CD is entitled “Blind Boy Willy,” and the book is Bill’s memoir, “The Life And Times Of Blind Boy Willy,” which is full of colorful tales from Bill’s life, spiced up with songs, photos, and those incredible recipes he has cooked for more than 200,000 fans for free, over a career that is going strong after thirty-odd years.  He’s done it all over the globe, marketing his own Liquid Summer Hot Sauce, all the while playing killer slide guitar and composing and singing some of the coolest songs this side of Appalachicola.

We’ll start with the book.  Herein, Bill details his youth, and how his mom thrived on cooking for a large, extended family.  That credo and many of the recipes included has served Bill well in all his endeavors.  You’ll learn of the residents of Peckerwood, their “cultivational skills” with certain herbs, and various run-ins with local law enforcement!  It’s all presented in the spirit of good fun, akin to Bill’s way of life—sharing good food and good music!

The songs were laid down at the Library Studios here in Music City, and features Bill on vocals, guitar, kick drum and hi-hat.  The set leads off with the lively title cut, where ol’ “Blind Boy Willy plays that fiddle all night long,” and that fiddle is courtesy of David Davidson.  Bill shows off a more somber side on two cuts, one pondering the musical question, “what makes a Lonely Girl lonely,” while the program closes with Bill expounding on the many “Pleasures Of The Deep,” backed by a fine string section.

We had two favorites, too.  Jimmy Buffett wrote a song about Bill, “I Will Play For Gumbo,” included in his “Beach House On The Moon” CD.  Bill renders his version here, talkin’ ’bout that monkey on my back,” with Joe Murphy on Sousaphone.  Joe brings that Sousaphone down to the “Dock Of The Bay,” using it to re-create Duck Dunn’s classic bass line, as Bill takes us down to that place where time seems to stand still….

Sauce Boss Bill Wharton has logged over a million miles in his travels all around the globe to spread the gospel of the gumbo!  Please join us in enjoying “The Life And Times Of Blind Boy Willy” and its companion CD!  Pass the Liquid Summer, ok?  Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Ben Rice review…December 28, 2018….

BEN RICE

WISH THE WORLD AWAY

DIRT ROAD HOME–PEACE WILL OVERCOME–RETREAT–MOJO HAND–WISH THE WORLD AWAY–THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY–HARD TIMES–IF YOU EVER CHANGE YOUR MIND–HIGHER GROUND–RUN AROUND–OH LORD–GET THERE–DON’T WORRY MAMA

Ben Rice is a triple-threat singer/composer/guitarist from the Portland, OR, area, reppin’ for the Cascade Blues Society, who bestowed upon him two of their prestigious Muddy Awards–one for Best Contemporary Act, the other for Male Vocalist of the Year for 2018.  For all his guitar and writing skills, that soulful voice jumps right out and grabs you.  His seventh overall release is entitled “Wish The World Away,” twelve originals and one cover that allows him to show off every weapon in his vast arsenal.  This set was laid down at Jimi Bott’ Roseleaf Studios, and Jimi appears on drums, also.  There are other fine musicians along for the ride, including Mitch Kashmar on harp, Dave Flieschner on keys, Paul Brainard on steel guitar, and Dave Melyan on drums.  Throughout, Ben plays a wide variety of guitars, and is equally at home with just his voice and guitar in an acoustic setting as he is turning on, tuning in, and plugging up in a band setting.

Things start off in a country-blues state of mind, with a shout-out to a simpler time, with “no cell phone reception, no satellite TV,” as we all take “The Dirt Road Home.”  “Retreat” is a poignant “it’s over” song, as “even a fool knows when the battle’s done,” filled with that fine pedal steel.  That theme is revisited later in the title cut, as Ben and guest vocalist, Nashville’s own Natasha GreyCloud, find our two woebegone lovers wishing for a second chance and a fresh start.

Ben channels the styles of Rev. Gary Davis and Blind Lemon Jefferson on our two favorites.  First, there is a strong gospel overture present as our hero, “tired and weary, with work yet to be done,” assures us that “Peace Will Overcome.”  And, in perhaps the set’s mot soul-drenched cut, Mitch Kashmar is on the harp in the lively, country-fied blues ’bout longing for an old-time-used-to-be, “If You Ever Change Your Mind.”

If you’re in the Portland area on Saturday, December 29, Ben Rice is playing with another of our favorite artists, the “Bettie Page of the Blues,” bass-playing, dynamite blues sister Anni Piper.  They’re gonna help ring out the old a few days early at Catfish Lou’s, making it a perfect time to get a copy of “Wish The World Away” from Ben on the bandstand, and enjoy one of the mot exciting young voices in contemporary blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Bees Deluxe review…December 27, 2018….

BEES DELUXE

VOICE OF DOG

SONG NUMBER 9–BEER–ALL MILES–INDUSTRIAL (ESPIONAGE)–FLAT EARTH CONSPIRACY–BLUES FOR CAMEROON–FAKE INSTRUMENTAL–STRANGE MATTER–SPAGHETTI WESTERN–YOU SAY RED–IMAGINARY CONVERSATION BETWEEN BJORK AND BUDDY GUY

The folks who comprise the Boston-based Bees Deluxe call their brand of music “Acid Blues,” and that’s a good place to start, but that ain’t the half of it.  The band explores a myriad of influences on their latest, “Voice Of Dog.”  Conrad Warre is on guitar, coaxing an unbelievable array of tones and sounds over this set, with Carol Band on keys, Aldo Dorr on bass, Patrick Sanders on drums, and Rosy Rosenblatt guesting on the harp.

Those aforementioned influences include the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Mongo Santamaria, the stylings of bassist Jaco Pastorius, and even saxman Paul Desmond.  It’s all mixed with a dose of traditional Chicago blues and a little British Invasion, but they are liable to hit you with just about anything.  Check out the jazzy, spaced-out “Fake Instrumental,” featuring Rosy’s harp dancing around Conrad’s deft lead lines.  You gotta love one of the set’s few vocals, the all-in-fun “Flat Earth Conspiracy,” a trip-hoppish number that flies in the face of all things logical, even insisting “the moon is made of green cheese and is six feet wide!”  Rosy’s on hand again for the guitar-harp interplay of “Spaghetti Western,” an instrumental that simply begs for The Man With No Name to make one last, glorious stand!  “You Say Red” is an example of the Brit influence, with Carol’s organ making a cool statement as our hero is continually at polar opposites with a lover.  By far, tho, our favorite had to be a blissful, sprawling, ten-minute instrumental cleverly-entitled “A Conversation With Bjork And Buddy Guy,” featuring a string section and Conrad riffing on excellent Chicago-styled blues with a hint of Ronnie Earl.

Fans, Bees Deluxe is sho’ nuff a piece of work, and that ain’t no lie.  But, if you’re not afraid to take a chance on a group of accomplished musicians doing things a little bit differently, then put on your avant-garde hat and dig “Voice Of Dog.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

The Sunset Avenue Sessions review…December 24, 2018….

LIZANNE KNOTT, JESSE TERRY, AND MICHAEL LOGEN

SUNSET AVENUE SESSIONS

TRANSOCEANIC RECORDS

LEARNING TO FLY–FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH–RING OF FIRE–WHY YOU WANNA BREAK MY HEART–DANCE IN OUR OLD SHOES–ALREADY HOME–STARGAZER–TRY–CAROLINE–OCEAN FLOOR–WILDFLOWERS

Lizanne Knott, Jesse Terry, and Michael Logen are pretty much “household names” in the Americana genre,’ and they have been friends and touring mates for a number of years.  So, when they get together in the studio, you KNOW something special is gonna happen.  And so it does, with perhaps one of the most highly-anticipated collaborations for all of 2018, “Sunset Avenue Sessions,” for Transoceanic Records.  It features eleven cuts, five beautiful covers and six originals, two from each of our players.  The harmonies from these singers is impeccable, and each one plays off the others astonishingly well.

Lizanne bookends the set, with a couple of Tom Petty classics.  She opens with one of the trio’s favorites, and one of ours, “Learning To Fly, but I ain’t got wings,” with Michael on the duet vocal.  They close with “Wildflowers,” featuring Tom Hampton on mandolin, dobro, and lap steel.  Jesse gives a rootsy update of Johnny Cash’s immortal “Ring Of Fire,” as Lizanne and Michael add their own subtle nuances, like painters filling in the lines on a canvas.  Michael turns in our other favorite—he takes “For What It’s Worth” down to the Crossroads, full of haunting guitar and hellhound harp.

For their originals, one each stood out for us.  “Lizanne’s “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” has our heroine buddying up to “a shot glass of whiskey” to cleanse herself of a long-gone lover.  Jesse’s ethereal “Stargazer” is a reminder for us to hold onto the values we all hold dear, and features Dar Williams on second vocal.  And, Michael’s “Already Home” adds a soulful, layered-vocal touch to this holiday season, with Randall Kent on guitars.

Fans, this collaboration between old friends Lizanne Knott, Jesse Terry, and Michael Logen is literally a “harmonic convergence” of talent within the Americana community.  Brilliant all around, please enjoy “Sunset Avenue Sessions.” Until next time….Merry Christmas from Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Randy Casey review…December 22, 2018….

RANDY CASEY

I GOT LUCKY

BEDBUG BLUES–I GOT LUCKY–SIX FEET OF RAIN–SOO LINE–LITTLE WEED–STRANGE–ONE STEP AHEAD–THAT TRAIN–THE CHAPERONE–THE NEW OLD LANDLORD BLUES–BROKEN ARM BLUES–RACING STRIPES

Randy Casey’s eighth overall album was inspired by the guitar he plays that could’ve easily ended up in the hands of Cheap Trick’s Rick Neilsen.  Yep–“I Got Lucky” finds Randy using that 1969 Gibson Custom Les Paul to compose the twelve originals on this bluesy, rocked-out set, that was intended for Rick.

Everything kicks off with Randy’s slide leading the charge, with a song that could easily have been an old Delta bluesman’s tune, riffin’ on those “Bedbug Blues,” where the “bedbugs are as big as a jackass!”  The title cut rides the Hooker boogie groove, as our hero says “I Got Lucky when you found me,” with harp from Pinetree Paynich.  “Soo Line” is an old-time “train song,” with rollin’ slide guitar, as Randy’s lover has taken off, yet again.  And, you know she’s gone for good when “all she left me was alone,” sadly detailed in the wah-wah fest that is “The Chaperone!”

We had two favorites, too.  Ol’ Randy may be a little down on his luck, but, hey, at least he’s got some killer tone on this cut, and he’s “got my love, and just a Little Weed.” He closes the set with a tune that is part Robert Johnson and all the way down-home, country blues.  It’s all about a dog named Springsteen, “cause she was born to run,” and has three “Racing Stripes” on her to prove it!  The guitar on this one is incredible–a potent mix of acoustic and electric that puts Randy’s chops on full display!

Cheap Trick’s loss is the blues community’s gain, as Randy Casey coaxes a tremendously-fat tone outta that old Gibson once meant for Rick Neilsen.  His originals are full of the fire and passion of the Delta masters, done up nicely for today’s contemporary listeners.  Hey–when I put this one in my player, sho’ nuff “I Got Lucky!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Katie Henry review…December 21, 2018….

KATIE HENRY

HIGH ROAD

NOWHERE FAST–NOTHING TO LOSE–CHAPELS (FEAT. MARCUS RANDOLPH)–HIGH ROAD–GYPSY SISTER–DEAD MAN’S HANDS–SOMEDAY–ROLL AWAY–TAKES A LOT

Katie Henry grew up in the mountains of North Jersey, before eventually movin’ ‘cross the river to NYC and honing her craft in the Big Apple’s bustling club circuit.  Her debut album is entitled “High Road,” and features Katie on vocals, clavinet, guitar, vintage vibe piano and acoustic piano.  Producer John Ginty is on organ, melodica, and even drums on one cut.  All the ten cuts are Katie originals, or co-writes along with bass man Antar Goodwin.

As you listen to this set, you’ll find yourself captivated by Katie’s soulful voice, akin to Bonnie Bramlett or my neighbor, Etta Britt.  There’s a lot of testifyin’ goin’ on here throughout, too, starting off with “If I’m scared to lose what was never meant to last, I’m goin’ Nowhere Fast!”  A church-ified, New Orleans-styled groove sets the tone for some mighty fine Sacred Steel from Marcus Randolph (of the Randolph Family Band) in “Chapels,” while at the other end of the spectrum, “Dead Man’s Hands” recalls a no-good lover set over a haunting, down-to-the-Crossroads groove, with guitar from Jonathan Fritz and drums from Hector Lopez.  Katie hits us with a cool, Southern-rockin’ shot of logic, with “Someday,” which, as we all know, “never comes!”  The slide from Spin Doctor Anthony Krizan is to-die-for, and this one was one of our two favorites.  The other closed the set, as the band hits a funky groove on “Takes A Lot to keep movin” nowadays, and features backing vocals and strong percussion from drummer man Moe Watson.

Katie Henry has one of the most expressive voices you’d ever want to hear, and the testifyin’ material allows her voice and musicianship to lead the charge.  Add in the skills of John Ginty both in front of and behind the mic, and this set takes the “High Road” to blues Nirvana!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

 

Bobby BlackHat review…December 20, 2018….

BOBBY BLACKHAT

PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES

BOBBY BLACKHAT MUSIC PUBLISHING

I SMELL ANOTHER MAN ON YOU–OVERDOSE OF THE BLUES–THIS GREY BEARD–PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES–HALLELUJAH–BABY MAMA DRAMA BLUES–GRIM REAPER–MAY I HAVE THIS DANCE–BACK TO CLEVELAND–WHEN I CRY IT’S UGLY–YOU GOT ME RUNNIN’–I HEAR MAMA’S VOICE

Bobby BlackHat (Walters) is a Coastal Virginia bluesman now playing out of Newport News, VA.  A Retired U. S. Coast Guard Commander with 27 years of distinguished service, he’s now spreadin’ the gospel of the blues everywhere he goes.  He combines the Piedmont styles of his home with the styles of Memphis, the Delta, and Chicago, to create a unique blend that’s sho’ nuff easy to dance to.  His latest set is entitled “Put Your Red Shoes On,” and has a little bit of something old, something new, something borrowed, and definitely something blue!

Bobby knows that to cater to today’s crowds, you gotta mix things up a little bit, and there are several variations of the blues theme over these twelve cuts.  Things start off on a minor-key note, as Bobby’s harp and vocal tell an all-too-sad tale, “I Smell Another Man On You,” with wailin’ slide from Tom Euler, and piano from Lucy Kirkpatrick.  “This Grey Beard” is done acoustically, and chronicles a man’s life as measured in the strands, each one “payment for a lesson learned.”  Bobby gets down over a Chuck Berry-fied groove to tell the story of those “few moments of pleasure” that lead to those “Baby Mama Drama Blues!”  “Grim Reaper” is a somber account of waking up with that dude next to your bed, while the set closes with a song that’s just the opposite.  Ten blissful minutes of blues has Bobby remembering the good things in “I Hear My Mama’s Voice.”  It has an almost gospel-like urgency, as he recounts the invaluable life lessons learned from Mama, which ring true even tho she is long passed.

We had two other favorites, too.  We’re always up for a good stop-time cut, and you can’t go wrong with Bobby, who’s “hooked on that I-IV-V groove, an Overdose Of The Blues.”  And, we have never heard Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” done as a harp-based instrumental, but Bobby’s rings out like a beacon of hope to the victims and survivors of the virtually-daily dose of senseless violence somewhere around the world.

Bobby BlackHat has been dubbed “Virginia’s Ambassador Of he Blues,” and no one wears that hat any better!  Excellent musicianship and material with a true showman at the helm makes you want to go out and “Put On Your Red Shoes” and dance the blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.